Startup Lesson 12: Stay Connected

The first startup with my name on the originating papers began in May of 1999. I started what eventually became CWNP (BTW, the capstone cert CWNE just got some big props on ZDNet) because I had come to understand something about myself: I did not like detested working for a large company.  I am a small company guy.

Just over 13 years later, CWNP was acquired.  During that 13 years, I was headlong and head down in the Wi-Fi industry; however, when I made the decision to leave CWNP post-acquisition, I made a painful discovery. I was very connected in the Wi-Fi industry, but not connected at all in the startup ecosystem of Atlanta.  This fact was quite important, since my next goal was my next startup in Atlanta. Hello?!?

I recall my first visit to ATDC in the fall of 2012, where I met Jen Bonnett. We started talking shop, and she said “Did you hear about David Cummings’ exit?”  I kid you not, my response was, “No. Who’s that?” That’s how out of touch I was with the Atlanta startup community.

Johnson Cook wrote that “It Takes One Year to Develop Personal Capital in a New Network“, and he’s right, though I have to admit that I’m slower than most people in this area, so it’s taken me 18 months. That’s been a very fun time, during which I’ve met tons of people, started stuff, pivoted, joined groups, inserted myself into the path of oncoming traffic (by standing behind the keg at Atlanta Startup Village), and generally gotten reconnected.  Today, I have a steady diet of meetups, and a steady stream of people coming to me to just talk about their startup. I love doing that. I love taking an idea and whiteboarding it to death until you come out on the other end with a firm direction.

All this is to say that, as you are heads down in your startup building it and building it and trying to make it go…stay connected.  Because here’s a fact: most startups fail. And if you fail, you’re gonna need to jump back up on a horse. Staying connected will help you do just that, among many other things.

What do you think?